Agency and structure in Albanian post-socialist cinema: Lessons from three films
Source: Studies in Eastern European Cinema, Volume 3, Number 2, October 2012 , pp. 151-173(23)
Abstract:Post-socialist societies struggle with contradictions between traditional social structures and the newly emerging free individual.While the former represent communitarian solutions for social malaises, the latter reflects the ontological changes in these societies as they embrace western-style capitalism. Artists live amidst such struggles, interpret them artistically and discover ironies that often leave audiences perplexed about human fate in this new social order. Often, philosophical answers are given unintentionally, and the possibility that neither the free individual nor social structures will prevail leads to fatalistic conclusions. On one hand, such conclusions reflect the artist's difficulty in finding a moral compass during the hardships of transition; on the other, they reflect the sustained will of the intellectual fight for agency. We will consider the background of three post-socialist Albanian films: Gjoleka djali i Abazit/Father and God ather (Dhimitër Anagnosti 2005); Tuneli/Tunnel (Ilir Butka 2002); and Parrulat/Slogans (Gjergj Xhuvani 2001). Anagnosti's film is a traditional historical drama; Xhuvani offers a `modern' art-house cinema model; while Butka has appropriated an experimental, `video-art' mode of film-making. The struggle between the individual and social structures leads to differing narratives in each of these films; yet in none of the cases can the outcomes be celebrated as victories. We argue that the Albanian post-socialist cinema is not merely a recycling of outmoded models. Instead, these film-makers tackle this agency-structure conflict head on, producing varying outcomes that are quite often fatalistic rather than optimistic, rendering this cinema a different hybrid altogether.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2012-10-31
- In the years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the political changes of 1989/90, there has been a growing interest in the cinemas of the former countries of the Eastern Bloc. There is a growing community of scholars, including a number of students working for post-graduate qualifications, who are engaged with film but also media, culture, and art (of one form or another) from the region. This is not a community existing on the margins of academia but one which is nationally and internationally recognised for the centrality and high quality of its scholarship. Studies in Eastern European Cinema provides a dynamic, innovative, regular, specialised peer-reviewed academic outlet and discursive focus for the world-wide community of Eastern European film scholars, edited by a board of experienced, internationally recognised experts in the field.
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